September 24, 2010
  Governance Information Bulletin #15 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid Strategy and Democracy Assistance

Thomas Blau and Daryl Liskey
According to Gavas, et al., of the German Development Institute there are two competing visions determining the future of European Union’s (EU) development cooperation. First, restricting its responsibility to shaping policy and delivering programmes; and, second, to undertake the task of coordination and network management, rather than the actual delivery of services. The authors contend that in most policy areas the EU position would lie along a continuum of consolidation to cooperation rather than the extremes with a patchwork of laws, rules and practices operating across the development space. >>>
Richard Fontaine and Brian M. Burton

Center for a New American Security fellows Richard Fontaine and Brian Burton discuss the origins of the State Department Policy Planning staff (S/P) and its current position leading the QDDR in ‘Eye to the Future’. Although George Kennan created S/P to provide a strategic perspective to State Department operations, its influence has been limited due to its lack of formal authority over operational planning and the need for relevance to current priorities. Although the Department is producing strategic documents such as the QDDR can enhance S/P’s influence, they argue it should work directly with the Secretary as a ‘kitchen cabinet’ that can challenge assumptions and improve decision-making.>>>

Governance and Public Sector Performance

International Development Studies

In An Upside Down View of Governance, IDS says development professionals should consider alternative good governance strategies that work to build informal relationships among state officials, civil society, and the private sector. Instead of focusing solely on the reform of formal rules and institutions, an ‘upside down’ view would focus on the incentives, constraints, and relationships of local stakeholders with an eye towards encouraging cooperation among those with shared interests. This research suggests that informal relationships can be governance solutions and not just problems. However, engaging local stakeholders at the informal level requires that governance professionals think outside the traditional OECD model of governance and look for ways to facilitate bottom-up governance reform.>>>

Susan C. Bhatnagar

In ‘Assessing the Impact of E-Government’, Susan Bhatnagar of the Indian Institute of Management explores how the use of E-Government technologies has supported governance reform and development in India and presents an assessment methodology to be used to measure effectiveness of E-Governance projects.  After reviewing the literature on assessment methodologies, the author describes her evaluation tool and its focus on the value of a project’s impact to a client (measured in client costs and overall satisfaction).  The methodology’s use is then described in evaluating the impact of new computerized delivery systems relative to the preexisting manual system.  The assessment results show that E-Governance and ICT can significantly improve governance capabilities, yet the wide variation in results illustrates a need to ensure that reforms must be well designed. >>>

Greg Power

In this handbook, Greg Power complies ethical guidelines and duties for parliamentary business intended for MPs seeking to reform their own institutions. Although written by Power, the content of the Handbook has been determined by a task force of MPs, consultants, and governance professionals. Power specifically addresses the creation of a parliamentarian ethics and conduct regime, the formulation of rules for transparency and disclosure, and efforts to build a culture of compliance around parliamentary ethics. He concludes by noting that a successful ethics and conduct regime can never be imported from a preexisting template, but must involve the full participation of MPs for which it will serve. Only then will MPs make the political decisions that lead them to agree on and follow a new ethics and conduct regime. >>>


Niels Nagelhus Schia and Benjamin de Carvalho

In ‘Peacebuilding in Liberia and the Case for a Perspective from Below’, Niels Nagelhus Schia and Benjamin de Carvalho of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs investigate how the international community has dealt with sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia. The authors argue that Western efforts to combat SBGV have not been incorporated into the reform of rule-of-law institutions.  In addition, Schia and Carvalho show that the international community have treated institutional reconstruction in Liberia as terra nullius and avoided Liberia’s tradition of customary law in defining institutional rules and standards. The international effort to fight SBGV is thereby hindered because it lacks legitimacy from local norms and values about justice and only uses existing development solutions that satisfy the West. >>>

Simon Robins

Simon Robins of the University of York explores how Uganda has begun to incorporate restorative criminal justice norms that involve adjudication based on the customary law of the pre-colonial period.  While retributive justice based on English common law has been the judicial model for independent Uganda, the inefficiencies and costs of maintaining the formal judicial system are expensive. Restorative justice can be carried out by community-level local councils or by including restorative mechanisms to the formal justice system. Robins concludes that bottom-up attempts that build upon local communities and customary law will be more effective that the importation of Western concepts and mechanisms of restorative justice.>>>


Noah Coburn

Noah Coburn of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit examines the relationship between MPs of the Afghan National Assembly and local political actors across Afghanistan.  His ethnographic descriptions of parliamentary culture show how reputations of MPs are derived from different sources, whether from prestige gained in the resistance to the Soviet Union, their ability to guide developing projects to their district, or from control by ethnic machine politics. However, the procedural emphasis on the 2010 parliamentary elections is shown to have unintended consequences as new winners and losers are created that erode stable expectations of the future.   >>>

Latin America

Keila Gonzalez and Kristen Sample

Although gains have been made in increasing gender equality in Latin America, the proportion of female parliamentarians is still below half. In ‘One Size Does Not Fit All,’ Keila Gonzalez and Kristen Sample of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance provide guidelines and best practices for parliamentarians to address and promote gender equality. They show how and why women MPs might organize in commissions, caucuses, or mixed organizations. The choice of organizational structure must reflect the mission, vision and goals of the participating MPs. They also discuss how gender issues can be addressed by all parties through the adoption of best practices and objectives stated in major international gender conventions. Instead of developing a broad agenda to be fulfilled, the authors suggest that women MPs identify a few key legislative goals and efficiently pursue them.>>>

Message from the Editor

Below please find the fifteenth edition of SUNY/CID’s Governance Information Bulletin [GIB]. It draws attention to materials about technical matters involved in strengthening national, regional and local political institutions, as well as to broader issues of aid strategies, democracy assistance, government and public sector performance, and to developments in countries and regions where we are working. Each entry provides a link to a larger piece of research in the title and at the end of the entry.

Many thanks for your attention. We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at  

In This Issue

Analytics and Action in Afghanistan
Eye to the Future: Refocusing State Department Policy Planning
An Upside Down View of Governance
Assessing the Impact of E-Government
Handbook on Parliamentary Ethics and Conduct
Peacebuilding in Liberia and the Case for a Perspective from Below
Restorative Approaches to Criminal Justice in Africa: the case of Uganda
Parliamentarians and Local Politics in Afghanistan
One Size Does Not Fit All: Lessons Learned from Legislative Gender Commissions and Caucuses

Development and Governance Blogs

The Private Sector Development Blog is written by a group of private sector development professionals who discuss how private sector growth can help reduce poverty.

Duncan Green’s From Poverty to Power is a conversational blog intended to explore Oxfam development concepts and wider development issues.

Chris Blattman is an Assistant Professor at Yale University who writes about international conflict, poverty and development, and participation in governance.

The Financial Access Initiative blog discusses ways to ensure that people in developing countries can use and access financial services.

Free Range International is written by development and security professionals operating in southern Afghanistan.

The Acumen Fund is written by staff members of that organization who write about their experiences while on the ground in posting around the world.

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